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Outrage at planned statue of Carla Bruni-Sarkozy as Italian immigrant worker

Reuters/Thibault Camus/Pool

A French mayor has sparked a row with a plan to erect a statue of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s wife, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, dressed as a 19th-century Italian immigrant worker. The statue, part of a project to build a Little Italy in the Paris suburb of Nogent-sur-Marne, is reported to be costing 82,000 euros.


Nogent mayor Jacques Martin, a member of Sarkozy's UMP party, commissioned sculptor Elisabeth Cibot to create the statue to commemorate women of Italian origin who worked in a factory that made clothes and decorative objects from feathers.

It would be part of a project to revamp part of the town in Italian style to mark the fact that some of the first of a wave of Italian immigrants to France settled there.

Bruni-Sarkozy is of Italian origin, although her career as super-model, recording artist and president’s wife has been more glamorous than those of the women she has been chosen to represent.

“It’s an insult to the Italian feather-workers, to give them the face of a super-rich person,” stormed Socialist councillor William Geib. “I’ve nothing against Carla Bruni-Sarkozy but she does not represent the world of work.”

Even some of Martin’s political allies have dissociated themselves from the move, claiming that Bruni-Sarkozy’s name was never mentioned when they voted to erect the statue.

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The artwork would cost 82,000 euros, according to reports in Le Parisien newspaper, with the council paying half and a property company paying the other 41,000 euros.

A photo-shoot has already been organised so that Cibot has an accurate record of Bruni-Sarkozy’s looks, according to anonymous sources close to the president’s wife.

They say she agreed to serve as model but that “it was never suggested that her name would appear”.

Martin has already opened a martial arts centre named after former judo champion and current Sports Minister David Douillet, according to independent right-wing councillor Michel Gilles.

The mayor hit national headlines last year when he banned people from rummaging through dustbins in Nogent-sur-Marne.

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